An Overview of Dog Bite Laws in Tennessee

Tennessee has its own set of dog bite laws that impose strict liability in some cases, and “one bite” liability rules in others. These laws are outlined in Section 44-8-413 of the Tennessee Code. An injured person may hold the owner of a dog strictly liable for injuries from animal bites if both the following factors existed:
  • The dog caused the injury to the person or damage to a person’s property
  • The injured person was in a public place or was lawfully in a private place at the time of the bite
In this scenario, the dog owner is liable regardless of whether he or she knew the dog would act in an aggressive manner, unless a defense allowed in the state statute applies to the case. This strict liability rule applies to any injuries animals cause to people who are in a public place or lawfully in a private place. Conversely, these rules do not apply to injuries that happen to people who are bitten or attacked on private residential or non-commercial properties that are owned, rented, or leased by the dog owner. In these cases, Tennessee applies a “one bite” rule, in which the injured person must demonstrate that the owner of the dog either knew or should have reasonably known the dog would act an aggressive manner. Finally, if a person trespasses onto someone else’s private property and suffers an injury from a dog bite or attack, that person may have no right to seek compensation. A judge is likely to throw out any personal injury claim the victim files. To learn more about filing a personal injury claim after suffering a serious dog bite in Tennessee, work with a reliable Bristol personal injury attorney. Call Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, P.C. today at 423-797-6022 to schedule your free initial consultation, or contact us online.